Introduction to Buddhism

Buddhism is founded on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama.
There are many Buddhas, but the Buddha who is well known in history was Gautama Siddhartha. The word Buddha is a title that means “one who is awake.” Those who follow the Buddhas’ teachings are called Buddhists. These teachings show us how to be more understanding, compassionate and accepting.

Buddhism was founded over 2,500 years ago.
Buddhism was founded at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in northeastern India back in the 5th or 6th century BCE. That’s over 2,600 years ago.

Over 500 million people practice Buddhism today.
This makes Buddhism the 4th largest religion in the world. The largest number of Buddhists lives in Asia. Over 240,000,000 live in China alone. But Buddhism is vastly growing and may soon become one of the major religions of the world.

Buddhism has been practiced in North America for over 200 years.
Many people in the United States discovered the Buddha’s teachings over 200 years ago when it was brought across the ocean by Chinese immigrants. That was back in the early 19th century. Since then Buddhism has expanded to Canada, Mexico and South America.

The Buddha was a prince named Siddhartha.
The life story of Siddhartha begins in present day Nepal. He was born as a prince in the royal Skakya family. Although he was raised in luxury, he was unhappy when he saw people suffer so much in the world. Leaving his wealth and royal title, he went into the forest and became a wandering monk. For six years, he practiced meditation and contemplated on how to help people stop suffering and find true happiness. Sitting in meditation one night, he became a Buddha, “one who is awake”. He was then called Buddha Shakyamuni, which means holy man of the Shakya clan. He saw that everyone has a compassionate and enlightened nature inside and can become a Buddha.

For the rest of his life, he traveled throughout India spreading his message of kindness, compassion, joy and peace. Going against tradition, he taught both men and women, rich and poor, and kings and slaves equally. (Read more about the Buddha’s life: Under the Bodhi Tree.)

The Buddha was born under a Sala tree, became enlightened under the Bodhi tree and passed away between two Sala trees.  


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